BOOK REVIEW: The Twyning

the-twyningTerence Blacker is perhaps best know for his children books, however in this novel he takes on the very adult subject of a war between rats and humans.

AUTHOR: Terence Blacker
PUBLISHER: Head of Zeus
OUT: Now
HARDBACK: 400 pages
RRP: £16.99
ISBN: 978-1781850701

This is the story of Efren, a young ratling born into the Court of Tasting, in the kingdom of rats below the city streets. The kingdom is in turmoil after the death of the old king, assassinated by a human scientist, Dr Henry Ross-Gibbon. Obsessed by an ambition to exterminate all rats, the doctor is assisted by Dogboy, an abandoned thirteen-year-old with a gift for understanding animals. Soon a war to the death rages between the rat kingdom and its mortal enemy: humankind.

Hurt and alone, Efren finds shelter with Dogboy and his friend Caz, a runaway eleven-year-old girl. And between these unlikely allies a spark is ignited – first of communication, then of hope. This tumultuous story of creatures caught up in a pitiless war transcends the barriers between animals and humans.

The Twyning is told from the two perspectives, rat Efren and a 13 year old boy Dogboy. Efren is a young rat born into the Court of Tasters (who check food for poison) in the rat kingdom below the streets. After witnessing the capture and murder of their old king Tzuriel by a human Dr. Henry Ross-Gibbon, Efren is drawn into the politics of a new regime, which at first seems new and ready to fight against the humans. But it soon becomes clear that this new regime is corrupt and Efren is out of his depth. In the human world above is Dogboy, a homeless boy who seems to understand animals, but who works for the aforementioned Dr. Ross-Gibbon, a scientist with a deep hatred of rats who is determined to wipe all rats out of existence.

After a horrendous attack by the Doctor that decimates the rat kingdom, the war between rat and human takes on a new ferocity. With both sides out to kill the other, Efren and Dogboy join forces to help save Elfren and the whole rat kingdom from total annihilation.

The Twyning has been called Watership Down for rats, but I think that is a little unfair, there is much more to the story than that. When I was reading about the new regime under Queen Jeniel I was reminded of when Napoleon took over in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

I found this book to be a truly brilliant and moving book. The way that each chapter was either written from the viewpoint of Efren or Dogboy meant that you really got to know the characters and empathise with them. I found myself really moved by this novel and the horrible things inflicted on the rats by Dr. Ross-Gibbon along with the rest of the humans – be warned here that some of the violence described is quite horrific and upsetting, but then again that is how rats are treated, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The story is original and all the characters are very believable, it is yet another book that pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go until I had finished reading it.

I urge you to read this novel now, and I dare you to not be moved by it as I was. A moving book that will stay with you for a long time to come.

Rating: 5/5
Reporter: darkphoenix1701

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